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At the heart of English folk
Folk on The Wireless

In conversation

Mike Norris, host of The Wireless from Age UK's weekly folk radio programme, chats to the English Folk Song and Dance Society (EFDSS)

 

Mike Norris

How would you describe what you do for The Wireless?

I call my show Classic Folk because I tap into the wealth of brilliant recordings made over the last 70 years or so – as well as playing current releases from new and established performers. My aim is to make the show authentic enough for those who know and love the music to appreciate, and accessible enough for those who are new to it to enjoy.

 

What’s the best bit about working on the programme?

It's all about that 'High Fidelity' feeling (in the Nick Hornby novel) ie the game of creating endless fantasy playlists of great tracks from your life. On the programme
I actually get to do it and it's a real buzz.

 

What can people expect from your programme?

Real folk and roots music, old and new from these islands and around the world. Old favourites and new stuff as well as some chat (but not too much!) about the provenance.

 

Where did you work/what were you doing before taking on the folk programme?

I worked for 25 years or so in IT and then for various national charities. In the eight years leading up to my retirement I worked for Victim Support. I've never had a personal professional connection with the folk arts, although as Chairman of EFDSS (2006 – 2011) I became involved in that world.

 

What are your interests in folk arts?

Much more than just an entertainment to me. Topic Records called their seminal recordings The Voice Of The People and that sort of sums up my feeling about it. I love the oral history, the stories of protest, tragedy, humour,  joy and rebellion. I like the fact that much of it is not a classical or 'taught' art form but one that still comes from the people in the form of the oral tradition. This music is, by definition, non-elitist and that is it's great strength and attraction.

 

Do you have any folk-related interests/pursuits (gig-going, lessons, dancing, research etc)?

Love going to gigs, festivals and folk clubs. I do a few record reviews and help with other projects whenever I can.

 

Who are your favourite performers?

This is practically impossible to answer but to name a few...

From the 'old' singers - Jeannie Robertson, Phoebe Smith, Fred Jordan, Frank Harte, Seamus Ennis, Paddy Tunney, Sarah Makem.
From the folk revival - Shirley Collins, the Watersons, Martin Carthy, Fairport Convention, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, June Tabor,  John Kirkpatrick, Steeleye Span, Dick Gaughan, The Albion Band.

From contemporary artists - Eliza Carthy, Bellowhead, Spiers and Boden, Fay Hield, Martin Simpson, Jim Causley.

But I want to stress that the above are just those with 'names'. I also love - perhaps above all - just listening to an 'unknown' singer, in a pub or club session, just singing a song they love and singing it well.


Click here to listen again, anytime, to the latest show


The Full English

The Full English

Unlocking hidden treasure of England’s cultural heritage. The Full English is the world’s largest free digital archive English folk songs, tunes, dances and customs. Containing more than 58,400 items from 12 of the country’s most important early 20th century folk music collections, you can delve into wherever you are in the world.

 

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